Latest update: April 19th, 2013
In a recent interview with the Jerusalem weekly Iton Yerushalayim, Professor Amiram Goldblum, an associate of Peace Now’s National Secretariat and head of the movement’s Settlement Watch Team, discussed the disillusionment of Israel’s peace camp, supported unilateral separation, called for the annexation of 50% of the settlers, and opposed the Palestinian “right of return.” Following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: In a full-page ad in the June 1, 2001 edition of Ha’aretz, the Peace Now movement called on the Israeli public to join a protest in Jerusalem calling for a settlement freeze and cease-fire. That protest never took place. What happened?
A: Immediately following the suicide bombing at the Tel Aviv disco club hundreds called and said they felt it would be too difficult to protest. This is bad timing [they said], no one would listen to us, everyone is mourning.
Q: How many were you expecting at the protest?
A: Around a thousand people.
Q: During the Lebanon war you gathered 400,000 protestors.
A: The truth is, there weren’t really 400,000 protestors there. But true, there were a few hundred thousand of us. Now we have to start from scratch.
Q: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi? (This is how the world’s glory passes?)
A: We are trying to become capable of sweeping a large camp [behind us] when the time is right and when the camp is ready. We cannot make things just happen out of thin air. The name [Peace Now] is very problematic. Today I would not choose the same name for the movement, but we can’t change it now. I find this name extremely difficult and it is even a source of embarrassment for me. I can’t even put the movement’s sticker on my car.
Q: What is the difficulty?
A: You observe the hatred on the Arab side and you observe the hatred on our side towards them. [You can tell that] their hatred is much worse then ours.
Q: In times past, when the movement was effective, and thus also dangerous for your political rivals, people used to throw stones and shatter your windows with the Peace Now sticker displayed on them. Does anyone bother even picking up a stone today [at the sight of a Peace Now sticker]?
A: I feel that people look [at the Peace Now sticker] and say: “What an idiot is driving this car.” Unlike his friends who cheered the Oslo accords, Goldblum thought it was an unworkable agreement, and even today he disagrees with Peace Now’s official guidelines regarding a preferable agreement.
Q: Your movement keeps on supporting interim agreements; what are your suggestions?
A: I think that as long as the occupation continues it will be impossible to achieve peace. The method of conducting peace negotiations while continuing the occupation has reached its limits. I recommend pulling out of the territories unilaterally and begin peace negotiations at a point where occupation no longer exists.
Q: As prime minister, would you take such a security risk?
A: The starting point would be an airtight security closer, a creation of a 310-kilometer security fence along the Green Line, an airtight closing of the border between Jordan and the Palestinian territory, between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and of the Mediterranean. This closure would be so complete that is would allow us to inspect every mouse entering Israel.
Q: But if we maintain presence alongside the Jordan River, this means not bringing the occupation to its end.
A: Hold on a second. This will first of all mean that we end the occupation of Palestinian communities. You cease the control of their daily lives and of their free passage inside the Palestinian territories. Today, the IDF is controlling 190 checkpoints of passages between A areas [full PA control] and B areas [PA civil control and Israel security control]. This is the problem with Oslo – it was constructed around the existence of settlements. The Palestinians were idiots too for agreeing to defer the settlement issue to the final status agreement.
Q: You are saying, “I don’t want to control their daily lives,” but when you control the checkpoints between your territory and theirs you are still very much in control of their lives.
A: Excuse me, I need to protect my safety; this is my first priority. Following the establishment of the fence, I would pull out the settlers and the soldiers. Behind the fences I would create a Judenrein or Israelenrein territory; if Jews would want to live there and if they get the Palestinian approval for it, they may go ahead and live there.
Q: Only a defeat in the battlefield will bring Israel to sign an agreement which supports a total evacuation of the settlements. In such a case, there is not going to be a need for Israel’s agreement to it anyway.
A: I am not suggesting evacuating all the settlements. I have no problem whatsoever with annexing 50 percent of the settlers.
Q: [Do you consider] Gilo [an Israeli neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, which has been under constant fire in the recent few months from the Palestinian town of Beit Jallah] a settlement?
A: Of course it is a settlement, a settlement that must be annexed into Israel’s territory. I’ll be even more pungent: I believe that we should annex the Har Homa neighborhood, a neighborhood against which my movement fought a stupid campaign. Har Homa has a territorial contiguity with the state of Israel. To say that Har Homa disturbs the contiguity of the Palestinian territory and to turn this in to a possible cause for war is rubbish, it’s stupidity.
Q: The security fence that you are proposing will not be capable of preventing shootings at some neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Bat Hefer. If this happens, what would we do then?
A: [In my scenario] this [the Palestinian territory] would be a sovereign state and they will not be able to use the excuse of Tanzim activists shooting.
Q: It happens that sovereign states open fire on other sovereign states.
A: In that case, we would go in and take care of business.
Q: At Camp David, when Barak agreed for the “right of return” of [Palestinian] refugees, the media reported that it was agreed that 100,000 refugees would return. Do you find this acceptable?
A: I object to the “right of return” and I struggled with members of my movement who tried to put forth all kinds of formulas regarding the subject….My argument is based on the notion that nationalism is a necessary evil. It is true today and it will remain true for the next few centuries. Nationalism is an idea based on people living separately and not mixed with other nations. We already have a 20 percent Arab minority, and this is a very substantial minority, almost unprecedented in normal nation states. In our case, the situation is further complicated by the fact that this minority is tied to the struggle of enemies from the outside. Nations [with such internal complexities] usually fall apart. Every refugee we will allow to come in here would increase the size of the minority and exacerbate this problem.
Reported by Giyora Eylon, Iton Yerushalayim. Translation copyright Middle East Media & Research Institute (MEMRI)
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